Four of the seven members of the Bakersfield City Council are pressing their cases for re-election this fall and only one of them is a shoo-in.
That would be Ward 7’s Chris Parlier, who is unopposed. But voters in wards one, three and four must make some decisions.
We’ll make it easy. The Californian has seen enough good things from each of the four — Willie Rivera in Ward 1, Ken Weir in Ward 3, Bob Smith in Ward 4, and Parlier — there is no compelling reason to deny any of them another term.
Rivera, the five-year incumbent, is being challenged by Marvin Dean and Gilberto de la Torre in the ethnically diverse southeast Bakersfield ward. Rivera has heard it so many times it’s like an unofficial slogan: He is the youngest elected City Council member in Bakersfield’s history.
But he has produced in a way that belies his years, making infrastructure investment, community development and public safety his top priorities. He serves as chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee and as a member of the Safe Neighborhoods Committee, among others. In his day job as director of regulatory affairs for the California Independent Petroleum Association, he has his finger on the pulse of a vital driver of the Kern economic engine.
De la Torre has a heart for the community and deserves our respect.
Dean, a longtime developer in and supporter of Bakersfield’s African American communities, has run for this office before, and that experience shows. He has mellowed, has good ideas, and truly cares.
But Rivera has momentum and we like his direction.
Weir, the three-term incumbent councilman of the northeast Bakersfield Ward 3, is facing challenger Salvador Lopez-Willingham, who has not been particularly visible in the campaign thus far.
Weir is an accountant who has been in public service for fully half of his adult life; his 20-plus years on the dais includes a long stint as a trustee for the Bakersfield City School District Board.
Bob Smith, the Ward 4 incumbent, has acquitted himself well. The owner and founder of Bike Bakersfield has served on the Planning and Development Committee and Community Services Committee, and as chairman of the city’s water board and Bakersfield representative to the Kern Council of Governments.
His opponent, Ernest Oliver, is an emerging voice in Bakersfield politics who seems intent on holding elected officials’ feet to the fire, a worthy pursuit.
But Smith has been accessible, receptive and innovative, and he deserves another term.
The Californian endorses Willie Rivera for Ward 1 councilman, Ken Weir for Ward 3 councilman, Bob Smith for Ward 4 councilman and Chris Parlier for Ward 7 councilman.